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Geraldo Rivera 'truly contemplating' run for Senate. Could he win?

Broadcast journalist Geraldo Rivera said on his radio program Thursday that he's been in touch 'with some people in the Republican Party in New Jersey' about a run in 2014. But it won't be easy.

By Staff Writer / January 31, 2013

In this June 2010 file photo, Broadcast journalist Geraldo Rivera speaks on the 'Fox & friends' television program in New York. On his radio program Thursday he said he's considering a run for a US Senate seat from New Jersey in 2014.

Richard Drew/AP/File

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Veteran broadcast journalist Geraldo Rivera says he’s considering a run for a US Senate seat from New Jersey in 2014.

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Peter Grier is The Christian Science Monitor's Washington editor. In this capacity, he helps direct coverage for the paper on most news events in the nation's capital.

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“I mention this only briefly ... fasten your seatbelt,” he said Thursday on his mid-day radio program. “I am and have been in touch with some people in the Republican Party in New Jersey. I am truly contemplating running for Senate against Frank Lautenberg or Cory Booker in New Jersey.”

Seatbelt fastened! We must say that Geraldo on the stump in the Garden State would be a journalist’s dream. Can you imagine the campaign appearances? The bombast, the flags, the moustache! (True story: after the Beyoncé lip-synching scandal broke, Mr. Rivera tweeted “Shocking-Sad what can we believe in, what’s next … my mustache exposed as a prosthetic?”)

Most of all we are dreaming of joint rallies with GOP nominee Rivera and current New Jersey GOP Gov. Chris Christie. The level of self-assuredness on a podium occupied by that pair would surpass any level ever measured by the EPA.

But we digress. The real purpose here is to warn Geraldo off. Going into trackless deserts to catch terrorists with your bare hands is one thing. Winning that 2014 Senate seat is another.

New Jersey is a pretty blue state, Governor Christie notwithstanding. President Obama won New Jersey by 18 points. According to the Cook Political Report, the upcoming 2014 Senate race is solid Democratic.

Are those “some people in the Republican Party” Geraldo’s talking to just looking for a rich person to carry the flag and perhaps self-fund a campaign that others are turning down because it’s a sure loser?

To be fair, there is a scenario where the GOP might win. It involves a primary fight between the incumbent Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg and Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who has already filed papers to run for the seat.

Senator Lautenberg is 89, and many state Democrats figure it is time for him to retire. But Lautenberg has given little indication he’s going to step down, and every indication is that he’s irritated by what he considers to be Mr. Booker’s presumption.

Booker may need a “spanking” for being “disrespectful,” said Lautenberg in a brief interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer last week.

Polls show Booker ahead at the moment. A divisive primary between the two could alienate numbers of Democratic voters and perhaps send them to the arms of a Republican candidate who can present him or herself as a moderate.

It is possible Geraldo could be that person. He’s a self-described NRA member who also supports some gun-control measures. (Here’s another actual Rivera tweet: “The angry personal attacks following my gun control proposals demonstrate brutish blind rigid unreasonable 2nd Amendment radical orthodoxy.”)

He’s a pro law-and-order guy, but also sounds like he might support immigration reform. And so on – you get a real mix with him, as anyone who’s listened to his radio show or seen him on Fox knows.

But we’re guessing long before 2014 the Democrats will get their candidate situation straightened out. Geraldo might not match up well against Booker in particular, since Booker is just as much a person-of-action as is the action journalist. In 2012 Booker personally saved a woman from a house fire, after all.

Booker has even cut a commercial with Christie spoofing this image. In the short the Newark mayor tells Christie “I got this” as he fixes the governor’s flat tire, helps Bruce Springsteen deal with a missing guitar, and then catches a baby dropped from a state Capitol balcony.

Still, Rivera, a longtime New Jersey resident, does sound serious about this whole affair. Maybe it’s just something he’s always wanted to do.

“I figure at my age, if I’m gonna do it, I gotta do it,” he said Thursday on his show.

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